Scott DesJarlais’ Re-Election Hopes Rise, Despite Abortion Scandal (Video)
Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais.
GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions
prior to their marriage and had carried on
multiple affairs with patients and co-workers
— an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board.
It was too late for DesJarlais to face a serious challenge that cycle, but he soon became one of 2014′s
most vulnerable House members
DesJarlais’ campaign cash flow
dried up, he faced a formidable foe: state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Until recently, Tennessee Republicans expected Tracy, a longtime state politician, to cruise past DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 primary. But in the final days of the race, DesJarlais is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated.
He might even win.
“I would say that my opponent counted me out early on, and my opponent’s team — he’s got some people who are well-based in Washington, Ward Baker and Brad Todd — and they have not been shy to use the propaganda machine,” DesJarlais said in a Wednesday morning phone interview. “But we’ve all kept our heads down and focused on our job, and it’s amazing how people do pay attention. . . . I’m hopeful that we are rewarded for that.”
There’s an obvious sign DesJarlais is in a stronger position than Tracy anticipated. Until recently, Tracy referred to DesJarlais’ scandal in subtle pokes and prods, lacing his ads with words like “integrity.” But this week, Tracy’s campaign released a scathing television ad with headlines from the DesJarlais abortion scandal.